On this elevated plateau in the hills of Athens, the industrious work of the beaver proceeds without impacting, or being impacted by, human uses. One particular diminutive plant, the federally endangered northeastern bulrush, thrives in this fluid landscape. Changes to water levels when beaver abandon their dams give seeds buried in the mud a chance to reappear and flourish before denser vegetation out competes this plant.
In extensive wetlands like Athens Dome, where beaver activity ebbs and flows over time, populations of northeastern bulrush occur at different stages of the life cycle, ensuring their long-term survival. Acquisition of this property furthers recovery goals to reclassify northeastern bulrush from endangered to threatened status.
The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department will manage the new Turner Hill Wildlife Management Area (WMA) created to protect the wetland communities of Athens Dome, and named to commemorate the Turner family farmstead. Sally and Alexander Turner, escaped slavery in the south during the Civil War, and one of their daughters, Daisy Turner (1883-1988), was a well-known historian and storyteller who lived in Grafton until the age of 104.
Located in Athens, this 79-acre parcel was recently transferred into the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department ownership. It is steep terrain, only accessible on foot. Trails are not marked.
Access is 3.6 miles south of Grafton Village on the Townshend-Grafton Rd., on the left (east) side of the road. Look for the small, yellow Conservancy sign. There is no official parking area, but you can pull off on the corner of a field on the right side of the road, across from the access point.